Friday, April 10, 2009

For Tuesday

Undergoing an experience with language can be seen as a series of phenomenological moments— moments in which language shows itself as what it is by revealing our relationship to it. Heidegger has taken us through three of those moments: when we can’t find the right word for something, where the word of the poet leaves off, and where we find thinking and poetry dwelling close together in the same neighborhood. We’ve had a lot to say about the first moment, a fair amount about the second, perhaps not enough about the third. We can fill in the gaps under old business, and please post questions beforehand, if you like. But it seems clear even so far, that for Heidegger, thinking somehow picks up where word leaves off, perhaps most significantly the word of the poet, perhaps because she cares most about language, but also the rest of us, when language resists our efforts to put words to what is most important to us. Such moments call for thinking and I think we have responded( some days better than others of course), with thinking we have done in class. So perhaps we have come to understand something of what Heidegger means by “undergoing an experience with language.”

But there’s still no getting around the fact that language seems to be essentially spoken, even though our speaking seems to come closest to undergoing an experience with language when we are rendered speechless. In the essay “The Way to language,” 111-136, Heidegger tries to come to terms with the essential spoken-ness of language and to discover what speaking is truly capable of when it is most congruent with the nature of language. What can speaking reveal when it attends to what language itself reveals? Heidegger calls speaking which is most in tune with the nature of language “saying,” and argues that such saying is a showing. We began a brief discussion of saying as showing on Thursday, accompanied by perhaps all too brief a poem, but that leaves us a lot to talk about on Tuesday. I suggested in class that amidst your reflections on speaking-saying-showing, you might consider the possibility of authentic speech, of speaking authentically. I think Heidegger points to that possibility in this essay.

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